The title of this thriller refers to an all-knowing smart phone called Charlotte, who is Siri on steroids, and whose inventor Graham gives this marvel...moreThe title of this thriller refers to an all-knowing smart phone called Charlotte, who is Siri on steroids, and whose inventor Graham gives this marvelous toy to 15-year-old misfit girl named Mads Ryan. Mads belongs to the bad-ass Katniss tribe of fictional heroines in what is basically a coming-into-empowerment story. But author Farnsworth has plenty more to offer than the standard-issue YA novel: his plot features a high-tech David vs. Goliath showdown, as Mads is challenged (with the help of Charlotte the phone) to infiltrate the NSA. Yes, there are plot holes, but they don't matter: the story's the thing, and it moves at a very satisfying clip, with well-researched tech details that a hacker would love. This book should resonate well with both boys and girls, who will find it difficult to put down.(less)
This is an excellent piece of writing and it packs volumes into its brief form. Expecting the story to be a parable, according to the title, one finds...moreThis is an excellent piece of writing and it packs volumes into its brief form. Expecting the story to be a parable, according to the title, one finds instead a parable within the larger story, a parable told by one friend to another in order to save his life. Dialogue and description are both first-rate, and the haunting characters linger in the mind long after. I would love to read this story in a collection because this author has a lot to say. Genre is young-adult-but-appealing-to-any-age.(less)
Ashton’s promising debut novel concerns a group of friends who have bonded because they are all recovering alcoholics looking out for each other - and...moreAshton’s promising debut novel concerns a group of friends who have bonded because they are all recovering alcoholics looking out for each other - and one of their members may be going over the edge. This is a great premise for drama and murder, with an enormously sympathetic heroine in Traci, who is not only struggling with recovery but who becomes pregnant by her untrustworthy and domineering live-in boyfriend. On top of that, she must answer the challenge of loyalty to her fragile friend Olivia, whose demons threaten to overwhelm her. One looks forward to the next of the series.(less)
Countless tales have been woven of the love triangle. It is the third party that sets the drama in motion, by destabilizing the pair. This worn old st...moreCountless tales have been woven of the love triangle. It is the third party that sets the drama in motion, by destabilizing the pair. This worn old story never grows stale if the characters are richly conceived, the writing is beautiful, and the setting is of unusual interest.
Roderick Craig Low’s book succeeds on all counts.
James, a stolid British computer salesman is happily enough married to Jude, a comparatively free spirit. Game change arrives with the free-love “swinger” movement that beset bourgeois marriages in the late 60’s. It’s a wonderful paradox that it’s Jude who embraces the open marriage concept (usually it was the male who was the more gung-ho, er, member). She promptly racks up a few sexual affairs, informing her husband of each one according to the then-popular trend of total honesty. James, on the other hand, is made for love only. The act of sex without love confounds him.
A business trip sends James to Prague during the repressive Communist era. There he falls deeply in love with a young, beautiful Czech colleague, Anezka. What next? Read this impeccable novel and find out.
The most original aspect of Low’s book is his conceit of interweaving chapters that depict all three characters as pieces on a chessboard, 30 years later. They bicker, they remember, they analyze the past. In the end, “they will always stand apart. They will always stand together. And they will never be able to move on.”(less)
Eric Praschan’s book comes with an amusing premise, charting the meltdown of Cindy James, a cognitive behavioral therapist, who is in critical need of...moreEric Praschan’s book comes with an amusing premise, charting the meltdown of Cindy James, a cognitive behavioral therapist, who is in critical need of…cognitive behavioral therapy. The story quickly turns serious, as Praschan explores her tortured psyche, leading us to the unimaginable trauma that keeps her imprisoned, like a ghost, in a house already haunted by her childhood tormentors. Judging from the crackling dialogue between Cindy and Tony, the therapist who loves and helps her, Praschan is well versed in the challenges of the doctor-patient duet. This is a fine and well-written psychological thriller. And I am partial to any male author who seeks – and succeeds – to draw a full- dimensioned woman narrator.(less)
Karen Essex frees the Dracula legend from its total staleness as more and more vampire novels flood the market.I myself don't read them, other than "I...moreKaren Essex frees the Dracula legend from its total staleness as more and more vampire novels flood the market.I myself don't read them, other than "Interview With the Vampire," which remains the one true masterpiece of the genre. I would place Dracula In Love alongside that one. Somehow Essex manages to recast Dracula in a completely fresh way, as a timeless spirit tormented by an impossible love. The narrator and object of desire is Mina, and she too has been reconceived as a strong complex Victorian woman, caught between the demands of matrimony and her erotic attraction to a demon (and her nemesis Van Helsing, who in this telling has become a Eugenics-obsessed scientist). I appreciated above all that Essex provides a very unexpected spiritual layer, to explain the origins of Count Dracula and his place in the spirit world, that is quite moving. There are intimations of reincarnation here; then she audaciously brings in Celtic legend, tying the faeries and the Sidhe to the Eastern European vampire dynasty - I won't give away how she pulls that off. Want more? The sensual scenes between Mina and her spectral Count are truly arousing. Don't hesitate to buy this one.(less)
This is a nicely written and easily ingested campfire story about a ghost haunting his killer, a Civil War infantryman of little conscience and hairtr...moreThis is a nicely written and easily ingested campfire story about a ghost haunting his killer, a Civil War infantryman of little conscience and hairtrigger temper. What is even creepier is that a great deal of it is true, verifiable family history and surviving memories. The dramatization introduces fictional elements, all to the good of the story. I enjoyed reading it after midnight. I took off a star because the text still needed proper editing.(less)
Superior scientific detail puts this novel a cut above most medical thrillers. Aside from its breakneck plot, EMBRYO proposes a chilling forecast of g...moreSuperior scientific detail puts this novel a cut above most medical thrillers. Aside from its breakneck plot, EMBRYO proposes a chilling forecast of genetic micro-manipulations to come, when a baby can be created in a petri dish and injected with genetic material that will correct any defect and boost IQ astronomically, for starters - a sort of eugenics wish-list. The villains of the piece pursue the betterment of humanity without any humanity of their own, because if perfection is perfectly possible, why worry about the body count? (less)
Set in the 23rd century, this sci-fi caper should be a total treat to any teen reader. Space Orville, the eponymous 16-year-old whizkid hero, is recru...more Set in the 23rd century, this sci-fi caper should be a total treat to any teen reader. Space Orville, the eponymous 16-year-old whizkid hero, is recruited from his job at Morphean Gaming Systems and sent on an unusual mission: to rescue Miles O'Teeth and the Irreplaceable Fog Napkin from his kidnappers, the Weezle Bums. That introduction alone should tell you that you're in for a wild ride inside an exuberant imagination. Space Orville, in the course of pursuing the Weezle Bums through space, gathering friends and allies as he goes, encounters a far more dangerous and destructive archvillain, and now our teen hero finds himself responsible for rescuing the whole cosmos.
Throughout the nonstop action, author Jeff Whelan serves up vivid description, priceless Lewis Carroll-like dialogue and wordplay, as well as meditations both profound and playful on the meaning of time and existence: for example, spoken by a Yoda-like sage named Riff, "Always is everywhere. And everywhere is always." Beat that, George Lucas. Whelan has also created an unforgettable companion for Space Orville: NeutroFuzz, the most adorable and stupendous pet EVER, who "bippers" and "flummers" and "tingulates" his way into your heart.
I don't want to expound further on the plot, leaving all the fun to those intelligent enough to buy this book. Author Whelan has a feast in store for you; he creates that literary miracle J.K. Rowling accomplished: an expansive, fully formed, vibrantly imagined, believably magical world. (less)
I don’t read many paranormal genre books, finding them sloppily written and plotted, so Carpathia was a happy surprise. Whitmore sets his tale in Vict...moreI don’t read many paranormal genre books, finding them sloppily written and plotted, so Carpathia was a happy surprise. Whitmore sets his tale in Victorian-era Romania, where several nations have sent their top inventors and crews to test out their (pre-auto) horseless contraptions in a race through the mountains of Carpathia. If there were no vampires or shapeshifters in them thar hills, this story would still be a lot of fun just for the race between these unwieldy Rube Goldberg machines, whose progress is monitored by zeppelin airships to boot. But there are creatures ahead, and only one man (Daniel Jameson) knows it, from his bitter firsthand experience. The action involves the race teams under attack by various species of undead. What makes Carpathia special is the amount of detailed knowledge the author brings to things like the interior construction of dirigibles and early driving machines (Whitmore has an extensive background in the Navy and motor sports). It’s not all testosterone for the reader; the story is filled out with a strong independent-minded heroine, and romantic elements are well handled. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Carpathia, and had no trouble envisioning it as a movie starring Daniel Craig as the tense and haunted Daniel Jameson. (less)